kick over the traces

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kick over the traces

To ignore rules and/or tradition; to rebel or break free. Refers to a horse that has stepped over the straps harnessing it to what it is pulling, therefore allowing it move more freely. Many people desire to kick over the traces in youth, and then begin to cherish the very traditions they flouted earlier in their life.
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kick over the traces

Fig. to do what one is meant not to do; to rebel against authority. (Alludes to a horse that steps on the wrong side of the straps that link it to whatever it is pulling.) At the age of sixty, Walter kicked over the traces and ran away to Brazil. All these young kids seem to want to kick over the traces.
See also: kick, over, trace

kick over the traces

Break loose from restraint, misbehave. For example, There's always one child who'll kick over the traces as soon as the bell rings. This metaphoric expression alludes to the straps attaching a horse to a vehicle, which the animal sometimes gets a leg over in order to kick more freely and thereby refuse to move forward. [Mid-1800s]
See also: kick, over, trace

kick over the traces

If someone kicks over the traces, they pay no attention to rules and traditions and behave exactly as they want to. Harry had kicked over the traces when his father died, and quit going to church. He found that most of his students had the desire to kick over the traces, the refusal to accept old values without question. Note: When a horse pulling a cart or carriage kicks over the traces, it steps over the side straps attached to its harness, so it can no longer be controlled effectively by the driver.
See also: kick, over, trace

kick over the traces

become insubordinate or reckless.
Traces are the straps by which a draught horse is attached to the vehicle it is pulling. If the animal kicked out over these straps, the driver would no longer be able to control it.
See also: kick, over, trace

ˌkick over the ˈtraces

(old-fashioned, British English) start to behave badly and refuse to accept any discipline or control: She smokes and she drinks. She’s really kicking over the traces, and her parents don’t know what to do with her.This phrase refers to a horse that has managed to lift its leg(s) over the long thin strips of leather (the traces) that attach it to a carriage or wagon so that it can kick more easily. The driver then cannot control it.
See also: kick, over, trace

kick over the traces

To act in a way that contravenes social expectations or propriety: "As soon as the opportunity presented itself, [he] kicked over the traces and threw himself into a life of pleasure" (K.D. Reynolds).
See also: kick, over, trace

kick over the traces

To disregard what is expected and follow your own wishes. Traces are the leather harness straps by which a horse is attached to a wagon or another vehicle. When the animal becomes upset, it may well kick out and end up stepping over the traces. At that point the driver has little or no control in steering or stopping. A person who rebels against convention and acts in what society would consider an unseemly manner has kicked over the traces. A similar equine-derived expression is “spit the bit and chuck the harness.”
See also: kick, over, trace